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Mary Kay Henry
President Service Employees International Union (SEIU), CLC

Mary Kay Henry was named one of the nation's "Top 25 Women in Healthcare" for 2009 by Modern Healthcare. For nearly 30 years, Henry has represented healthcare workers at the Service Employees International Union, where she helped lead the fight to expand healthcare for millions of children and strengthen the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Henry has devoted her life to helping America's healthcare workers form unions, improve their jobs and the quality of care, and advocate for a more rational and humane health care system. Her faith and values as a practicing Roman Catholic led her to pursue union organizing as a vocation.

Her vision and leadership has helped pave the way to groundbreaking agreements between SEIU and hospital chains such as Beverly Enterprises, Catholic Healthcare West, Tenet, and HCA, and to the national Labor-Management Partnership at Kaiser Permanente, the nation's largest HMO. In the Midwest, a strategic alliance between SEIU and Allina Hospitals and Clinics in Minnesota is centered on improving the quality of patient care, with caregivers now working side by side with management to solve problems.

Henry began working with SEIU in 1979 and rose to become a leader and chief healthcare strategist and was elected to the International Executive Board in 1996. In June 2004, she was elected to serve as an International Executive Vice President of SEIU, leading the union's efforts to build a stronger voice for healthcare workers. More than one million healthcare workers nationwide, including registered nurses, technicians, doctors, and hospital and clinic workers are united in SEIU Healthcare.

An active champion of healthcare reform, Mary Kay envisions a U.S. healthcare system that provides universal coverage and gives front-line caregivers a real voice in patient care. She is a member of the executive board of Families USA, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans. She was formerly a labor adviser to and member of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' Subcommittee on Catholic Health Care.

Recognizing that today's global economy demands a new and different model of labor-management relationships, Mary Kay is leading a national effort by SEIU to build new kinds of partnerships with hospital employers-partnerships that will improve the quality of patient care, strengthen the hospital's competitive performance, and give workers a voice in decisions that affect care and working conditions. Mary Kay is also active in the fight for immigration reform and gay and lesbian rights. She is a founding member of SEIU's gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus.

Entries by Mary Kay Henry

Here's What the Fight for $15 Strikers Have in Common With You

(128) Comments | Posted April 15, 2015 | 12:05 AM

Today, I am joining tens of thousands of people all over the country who are delivering a message, louder than ever, to fast-food corporations: pay all of your workers enough to afford the basics. Fast-food workers are going on strike today, April 15, in the nationwide movement known as the...

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King v. Burwell: A Political Attack on Health Care That Millions Didn't See Coming and Don't Like Much

(15) Comments | Posted March 1, 2015 | 11:00 PM

When the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, it provided a bright vision of a more secure future for ordinary working Americans. It's a future that many parents, young adults and middle-age Americans have just barely begun to enjoy. Now their health and financial peace of mind hang in...

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A Year Later, Typhoon Haiyan's Lesson Is: More Extreme Storms Demand More Extreme Measures

(4) Comments | Posted November 7, 2014 | 9:47 AM

A year ago today, the most devastating Pacific Ocean storm ever hit the Philippines. It clocked top speeds of up to 195 miles per hour when it made landfall; leaving 6,300 people dead and up to 16 million people overall impacted. Known as "Yolanda" locally, the storm left an estimated...

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Climate Crisis Is Every Working Person's Crisis

(12) Comments | Posted September 19, 2014 | 11:03 PM

In recent weeks, working people have taken to the streets to stand up for higher wages, protesting corporations that make big profits but pay poverty wages. This Sunday, thousands of us will be out in the streets again, this time to take our place in history by standing strong at...

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Workers Are Rising -- and Winning

(1) Comments | Posted June 12, 2014 | 11:45 AM

Workers rising, wages rising.

That's the story of the summer so far for the American economy and the hard-working women and men staking their claim to join the next American middle class.

The most recent example is the victory in Seattle, where the mayor signed a bill that will

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Six Reasons to Cheer for Unions This International Women's Day

(0) Comments | Posted March 8, 2014 | 1:30 PM

Women's History Month is a perfect time to celebrate the capacity for upward mobility women have gained in the workforce--especially when it comes to labor unions.Women's History Month is a perfect time to celebrate the capacity...

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A City Unites to Demand Better From Its Largest Employer

(5) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 8:01 AM

Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- in Pittsburgh knows the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The health system is the city's and the commonwealth's largest private employer, its hospitals anchor neighborhoods and its headquarters in the former U.S. Steel building helps define the city's skyline.

Lately, people have...

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In 2013, Low-Wage Workers' Frustration Led to Action; 2014 Will Be a Year of Change

(13) Comments | Posted December 30, 2013 | 11:09 AM

It began just before the calendar turned last winter: low-wage Walmart workers captured the public's attention the day after Thanksgiving in 2012 with nationwide Black Friday protests demanding higher pay. Two days earlier, workers at LAX -- Los Angeles International Airport -- rallied in the streets and clogged traffic to...

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My Thanksgiving Prayer: May Obamacare Be the Beginning of the End of Economic 'Exclusion'

(67) Comments | Posted November 27, 2013 | 1:34 PM

As a practicing Catholic, I deeply appreciate that Pope Francis this week issued an indictment of economic "exclusion" in the first major document -- or "Apostolic Exhortation" -- of his papacy.

During my own Thanksgiving celebration I will give thanks for the progress our country made...

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Fasting for Commonsense Immigration Reform

(8) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 1:26 PM

I'm joining the Fast for Families today to renew my faith in who we are as a nation. For the next twenty-four hours, I will join my brother, Eliseo Medina and other religious and civic leaders who have committed to abstain from food for as long as they...

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Working People in Small Washington Community Take Living Wage Directly to Voters

(2) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 8:04 AM

In the city of SeaTac, which surrounds the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, something special is happening.

Working people in and around the airport have found an innovative way to solve a problem that has become all too familiar across our nation. Through the Yes! for SeaTac campaign, they are taking...

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New Census Data Underscores Why Movement to Boost Wages Must Succeed

(0) Comments | Posted September 18, 2013 | 3:28 PM

From fast-food workers to Walmart employees and from airport workers to security officers, 2013 has been a year of workers standing up for living wages. Census data released today underscore why we need this movement to succeed.

It's bad enough that for...

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Marching for an Inclusive Dream

(4) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 4:35 PM

During the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, civil rights, faith and labor leaders pronounced racism and economic equality as "twin evils." They asserted that African Americans can never be fully enfranchised without also having access to economic opportunity.

As we fight these "twin evils" to this day,...

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We Cannot Build a Strong, Equitable Economy on Low-Paying Jobs

(136) Comments | Posted August 8, 2013 | 4:21 PM

What started out last fall as a one-day walkout at fast-food restaurants to protest poverty-level wages and stand up for basic human dignity has transformed into a movement that has captured the public interest.

I've been privileged, especially in recent weeks, to talk to institutional partners, policymakers and

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For Any Working Mom, Child Care Is Essential

(2) Comments | Posted July 25, 2013 | 12:41 PM

If 2012 was the year of the woman, 2013 is the year of the working mom. And that's why I'm headed to California.

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi along with Reps. Rosa DeLauro, Doris Matsui and others announced a new Women's Economic Agenda, built on three key...

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'Living Paycheck to Paycheck Would Represent an Improvement'

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2013 | 1:55 PM

Pattie Federico had to make an impossible choice last winter. Fix her aging furnace and stay warm, or put gas in and do routine maintenance on her nine-year-old car. She chose the car so she could keep her job, eventually scrape together enough to repair her furnace, and repeat the...

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We Are Better Than DOMA

(20) Comments | Posted June 19, 2013 | 12:14 PM

The so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has cast a long shadow on working families since it became federal law in 1996, long before any state recognized same-sex marriages.

Now, as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to issue a decision [U.S. v. Windsor] on DOMA's constitutionality, LGBT families are...

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Why 700 Striking Health Care Workers in Washington Matter

(12) Comments | Posted March 21, 2013 | 6:42 PM

Sabrina Duncan has a daughter with disabilities who requires more doctor visits and care than the average child. Until Jan. 1 of this year, her employer, Providence Health & Services, provided a low-deductible health insurance plan that gave her affordable access to the continual care her daughter needs....

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Don't Pull Up the Ladder

(4) Comments | Posted February 20, 2013 | 12:09 PM

Toward the end of his inspiring State of the Union address to the nation, President Obama said we must "build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class." Most pundits did not pick up on this reference to the nation's poor, but these words were more than an eloquent turn...

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Learning from the Bangladesh Apparel Factory Tragedy

(1) Comments | Posted December 3, 2012 | 6:00 PM

In the blackened rubble of the fire at a Bangladesh apparel factory last week that killed 112 workers are charred pieces of clothing made for Walmart, Disney, Dickies, Sean Combs and Sears. Scenes from the fire are heartbreaking -- and eerily reminiscent of the deadly blaze that roared through the...

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